Library of Ideas: A Course by Charles Gaines

  • Los Angeles

On the occasion of ‘Charles Gaines. Palm Trees and Other Works,’ at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles in 2019, LA-based conceptual artist Charles Gaines conducted a ten-part lecture series on the tenets of aesthetics and critical theory in art, bringing his mastery of the field into a public setting. This lecture series offered the public a chance to hear the artist discuss topics that are normally reserved for his classes at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he is on the faculty.

Transforming our Book & Printed Matter Lab into his classroom, Gaines began by explaining the intention of the course, which was his attempt at creating a narrative history of critical thinking around theories of aesthetics and culture, bringing the ideas he discusses in his beloved CalArts course, ‘Content and Form’ into the gallery setting. To start his discussion, Gaines explained that the course would be divided into four ‘chapters.’ Chapter 1 focused on classical Aesthetic Theory, all the way up to the modern period in European history. Chapter 2 was a discussion around the relationship between ideas surrounding art, and ideas surrounding culture (focusing specifically on the writings of Henri Focillon and Immanuel Kant). In Chapter 3, Gaines traced Rosalind Krauss's influential suppositions about the grid and introduced the class to the relationship between content and reality. Lastly, Chapter 4 featured an investigation of empiricism and the philosophies of David Hume.

– A new online exhibition, 'Charles Gaines. Numbers and Trees: Palm Canyon, Palm Trees Series 3' opens Monday, 17 August.